New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out angrily at state legislative leaders Wednesday when he realized they’d nixed his request to use speed-tracking cameras for traffic enforcement. His reaction is understandable.
Cops have more important things to do than to set up speed traps on city streets; at least they think they do, which is why they tend to give the problem short shrift. But speeding drivers — as well as those who run red lights — are a serious public safety threat, and cops should pay more attention to them. And maybe they would if they had more adequate resources to do so, but this is the 21st century and money is scarce.
So Bloomberg wanted to do the next best thing: install cameras that identify speeders, take their pictures and fine them accordingly. It’s been done with considerable success in over 100 cities around the country, according to a report in The New York Times; so why not New York City, where there were 274 traffic fatalities last year and where studies have shown that at least 75 percent of the motorists within a quarter-mile of a city school exceed the speed limit?
Who knows the real answer, but state lawmakers, who have to give the city permission, won’t. Maybe they don’t want to face the wrath of scofflaws when they receive their summonses in the mail; maybe they want to protect the police union, which opposes the plan because it wants the city to hire more cops. But whatever the reason, it’s wrong.
The state shouldn’t even have a say in the matter, but how can it deny speed cameras in New York City when it’s allowed red-light cameras elsewhere?
Bloomberg, who reportedly threatened to provide to future accident victims’ families the names and phone numbers of the Senate leaders who killed his measure, had reason to be mad. Just as the family of Schenectady’s Cassandra Boone should be mad at city officials who’ve long resisted the red-light cameras that might have encouraged Anthony Gallo to stop his truck at the corner of Erie Boulevard and State Street in 2011, instead of hitting the 19-year-old college student and running.